I used to absolutely despise lentils to death! My mum used to make them nearly every Wednesday when I was a teenager as she knew I would come back home starving to death as after “normal” school I then had to go to Spanish School. I clearly remember going to bed and seeing the lentils soaking in a bowl the night before and already dreading it. The sauce it was cooked in and the meat itself was nice but I just couldn’t stomach the lentils themselves. I also have bad memories of being forced to eat them and not being allowed to leave the table till I had finished them. My technique was to “play” with the lentils till my parents had finished and then wait until I was forced to stay at the table while the rest of the family had retired to the sitting room. At this point, I would fish the lentils out of the bowl, wrap in lots and lots of kitchen towel and put them at the bottom of the rubbish bin. My mum would then come back to check on progress and let me leave. She never did find out about hiding them at the bottom of the bin!
Anyways, I was back at my parents house last year and my mum had made lentils. I decided to try them and give them a chance and to my utter surprise I actually liked them! Tastes really do change! Since then, I asked my mum to show me her recipe and now I eat them often.
This is a great recipe to make when supplies are running low at home. You can make it with any vegetables you have at hand and use whatever protein you like, or skip it entirely. Heck, you can even make it when you have no vegetables or any protein at home! I normally like to use onion, carrot and celery but will use anything I have in the fridge. I especially like throwing in some spinach, kale or lamb’s lettuce at the end, if there is any at home. Protein wise, my mum would traditionally use chorizo and pork ribs but anything goes such as chicken or fish. Also, my mum sometimes throws in a handful of rice but I prefer to skip that part.
I always use Pardina lentils which do not need to be soaked overnight and cook quite fast. Depending on the type of lentils you use, refer to the cooking instructions on the packet. Some need to be soaked and also take longer to cook.
The cups used in this recipes is just any old cup you have at hand, it isn’t the American measuring cup method.
2 cups pardina lentils, washed
6 cups cold water (it needs to fully cover the lentils by circa 3cm)
1 carrot, halved
2 celery sticks, cut in chunks
1 onion, quartered
1 red pepper, cut in chunks
2 cooking chorizos
3 garlic cloves, medium sliced
2 dried cayenne chillies (or any other type of chilli)
1 Tbsp. sweet pimenton (or paprika)
2 Tbsp. plain flour
2 tsps cumin powder
4 Tbsp olive oil
1 In a pan add lentils, vegetables and meat and cover with water. The water should fully cover the ingredients by at least 3cm otherwise the water will completely evaporate. Bring to a boil.
2 When you see the water is just starting to boil, get a small frying pan and fry garlic slices and cayenne chillies in plenty of olive oil. Add pimenton for a few seconds and then mix in the flour. Take off the heat and pour directly into the pan with lentils. It will sizzle, but it’s normal.
3 Simmer on a low heat for ten minutes.
4 Season with salt and 1 tsp cumin powder. Stir to make sure the lentils to not stick to the bottom of the pan and simmer for a further ten minutes or until they are cooked. Cooking times will vary depending on the type of lentils you use. Check the seasoning and add 1tsp of cumin powder right at the end.
At this point, you can also stir in some spinach if you have any at hand.